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Unsuitable walking routes to school

Where a child lives within 'statutory walking distance’ of his or her nearest suitable school but the route is considered unsuitable for pedestrians, they are entitled to home to school transport free of charge.

Statutory walking distance is:

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  • two miles for children up to the age of eight (the end of Year 3)
  • three miles for children aged eight and above (Year 4 onwards).

The Council has a statutory duty to assess such routes to determine whether they are suitable for pedestrians. The way in which routes are assessed is a matter for each local authority to determine.

In January 2016 the Council began a review of its Pedestrian Route Assessment Policy to ensure that it was consistent with national guidelines.

A new Pedestrian Route Assessment Policy was approved by the Council in April 2016. All routes are now assessed in line with the new policy.

Where concerns are raised about the safety of a route which is below statutory walking distance and is:

  • Between the child’s home and his or her nearest or designated school; or
  • Between the child’s home and a school where she or he has been allocated a place as the nearest school with room; or
  • Between the child’s home and the designated pick-up point for home to school transport provided by the local authority

a pedestrian route assessment is commissioned by Children and Family Services and completed by the Road Safety Engineering Team in CORMAC.

The assessment takes into account many aspects, including, but not limited to:

  • The presence of adequate footways and/or ‘step-offs’
  • Traffic flow
  • Sight lines and visibility
  • The need to cross roads and the opportunities to do so safely

The assessment assumes a child will be accompanied as necessary by a responsible parent or carer.

If you have concerns about the safety of the route between your home address and your nearest or designated school, or between your home and the pick-up point for your child’s school transport, you should complete the Home to School Transport online application form.

You should make it clear that you are applying on the basis of the safety of the route, highlighting any particular sections or risks that you are concerned about.

A Pedestrian Route Assessment will then be undertaken. Please note that this may take up to eight weeks to complete. You will remain responsible for arranging suitable travel arrangements for your child during this time.

If the Assessment concludes that the route is unsuitable for pedestrians, your child will be entitled to transport free of charge.

The assessment assumes a child will be accompanied as necessary by a responsible parent or carer.

This is consistent with Cornwall Council’s position in its Home to School Transport Policy that it is the responsibility of a parent/carer to accompany a child (or arrange suitable supervision) as necessary when walking to and from school, including to and from a provided transport pick-up and set-down point.

Transport is not provided on the basis that a parent is unable to accompany their child due to work commitments or domestic arrangements, such as separated families or childcare arrangements for other children.

Yes. Any transport currently provided because the route was assessed as unsuitable under the previous policy will continue.

However, in line with the Home to School Transport Policy all routes assessed as unsuitable for pedestrian use are kept under regular review and may be re-assessed.

Where a route is re-assessed under the new policy as suitable for pedestrians the entitlement to transport will cease with a minimum of one term’s notice. However, we expect this to be a minority of cases.

Between January and April 2016, while the assessment policy was under review, some Pedestrian Route Assessments were undertaken using a ‘desktop assessment’ rather than a full assessment.

In these cases where routes were considered unsuitable transport was provided until such time that a full assessment could be undertaken using the new policy. Where the full assessment results in the route being considered suitable for pedestrians, the transport entitlement will be withdrawn with one term’s notice.

There will be a right of appeal in any cases where transport is withdrawn in accordance with the Council’s usual Home to School Transport appeal process.

If you disagree with the outcome of a Pedestrian Route Assessment you will have the opportunity to appeal under the Council’s usual Home to School Transport appeal process. You will be notified of how to do this along with the outcome of the route assessment.

Pedestrian Route Assessments have been undertaken in line with the new  Pedestrian Route Assessment Policy.

There are many other routes that were assessed in line with Cornwall's previous criteria which are not listed. These are in the process of being reassessed and will be listed once the revised assessment has been completed.